Saturday, March 10, 2012

Goin' Once, Goin' Twice

As I said in the last post, my parents, hubs, Thing 2 {aka the history buff} & I went to an auction preview last night.  There is a fancy auction house in a city about an hour & a half away from us, & we get their mailer.  If you haven't gone to an auction preview, you really should give it a try!  It is an opportunity to see historic pieces up close & personal-- to actually handle manuscripts from the 1300s {with white cotton gloves on, of course}, & photograph statues from ancient Greece {without flash-- which also explains the quality of the photos, sorry}, and see a set of Salvador Dali's paintings so close up you can see the brush strokes-- all of which we've actually seen/done at previews.  In addition to teaching history, I also teach Humanities 2010/2020, & on several occasions I've taken pictures of items that I've included in presentations for my class! 
Anyway, the estate they had last night was incredible {there was even a TV show filming some of the items for an upcoming episode...I'm not sure of the name of the show though-- I overheard the presenter, but I wasn't paying much attention as I was enthralled with a head of Hermes dated from 2nd/3rd century CE that was behind him}. 
 
They had this estimated to sell for $150,000-$200,000 with a minimum bid of $130,000...which give you an idea of the solid provenance that came with each piece

In addition to that head, here are some of the highlights:
Greek heads dated from the first century BCE-- most likely household gods-- smaller statues that one kept in one's home

A terra cotta Etruscan head, from the late period, somewhere in the late 3rd century BCE-- the Etruscan civilization was located near Tuscany in Italy, pre Roman empire

Greek black figure & red figure pottery:  black from around 4th century BCE, red from slightly earlier than that

Roman mosaic-- Second Style from around 1st century BCE...and yes,it is in a cardboard box!

Medieval metal bowls from Norman conquest around 1066 CE
Greco-Roman revival, late 1700s, France


Incredible right?  There was tons more-- so much that the hubs & I suspect where they originated from, & whether or not they were obtained under completely legitimate methods...what got us thinking in particular was a huge quantity of Eastern Orthodox iconography & monstrances.  Immediately following World War II, after the Eastern block was given to Stalin by the allies in the treaty that ended the war, there was a lot of smuggling of art which was then sold on the black market to independent buyers.  I am in no way accusing the estate we saw last night of purchasing illegal art, but the sheer volume of some of the collection does make one wonder if they weren't smuggled in at some point in bulk...


There were 4 of these icons in this cardboard box lot, for example.  Yes.  Icons from the 16th century CE were stacked in a cardboard box lot...estimated to sell at around $1,500 per...and no, that isn't a camera flash, but a reflection of the florescent lighting in the room...I would never, ever, ever use a flash for this sort of photo taking!  It can damage the paint/patina of pieces, which is why you usually aren't allowed to take photos in museums.  But since this is an auction, buyers hire folks to come in and take photos so that they can determine whether or not to bid...but now I'm rambling...

The iconography was from the same period, in the same style & the same age, and that, coupled with the inclusion of several holy pieces that aren't usually sold to private collectors, is what aroused our suspicions.  Like I said in yesterday's post, the Indiana Jones started coming out in the hubs & I-- lots of "this should be in a museum" being said...but man, was it cool~*

All the museum quality pieces aside, what really stole my heart was this German chest from the colonial era Pennsylvania:





Isn't it fantastic?!  

Over the summer, I fully intend to copy this design & I think I have just the computer cabinet in mind. {For about 5 years, as I finished my degrees, I did trompe l'oiel & faux finish painting to make a little extra money-- I've had the best life ever...seriously...The. Best. Life. Ever.~*}  I'll be sure to post tutorials-- but it will have to wait until the summer because it is rather time consuming!


Well, that is just a teeniest bit of the auction preview-- there was sooooooooooooooooo much more...sigh.  Later this afternoon I'll be posting a craft project & no doubt, more ramblings, so see you then!